WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted (how) into two piles -- the "buy" pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of planned purchases) and the "read" pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get his thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down, and here's some common definitions used in the column) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...
THE BUY PILE FOR JULY 6, 2011
Batman: Knight of Vengeance #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. Writer Brian Azzarello delivers some plot twists here that'll snap your head back, and the intensity of this issue is simply relentless. With the sure hand of his regular artistic collaborator Eduardo Risso handling the visual side of things, the story delves deliciously into the brutal life of Thomas Wayne, introducing the Flashpoint Oracle (which just looked sad) and making the kidnapping of Harvey Dent's kids a really gripping experience. This issue is so good it virtually levitates, and the fact that it's trapped in an Elseworlds-esque crossover instead of being part of a storytelling legacy is its only deficit. You're left wanting more, so much more.
Executive Assistant Iris: The Hit List Agenda #1
Jump from the Read Pile.
A wonderful balance of exposition and balls-to-the-wall action, this issue establishes the intentionally cipher-esque character of Acteia, a professional body guard with the looks of a TV starlet, and her corporate-minded charge as they fend off assassination attempts and balance the latter's attempt at conducting a personal life, even going as far as to draw down with high caliber ammunition on a helicopter. There's a last page twist which has interesting implications and the whole idea of academies full of leggy super body guards is fascinating. Quite an engaging start.
Secret Six #35
There is a dangling sense of finality as this series draws to a close ("Do you smell it? ... it's Thomas and Mr. Bane. Death is all around them ...") with the team seemingly gearing up for one last huge mission -- taking on Batman, Incorporated. This could seem ill-advised, as even a character in the book called them "a glutenous gaggle of perverts and failures. Who among you has accomplished anything?" Still, it gives the group a sense of focus and determination that hasn't been seen since maybe the adventure with Junior, so it is fun to see them settle into a rhythm and show this in effect ("Iiiiii'm a shark, I'm a shark, I'm a shark, I'm a shark, I'm a shark!") with such unbridled glee and bloodlust. The chemistry between Catman and Bane is compelling, as is the simple clarity of Deadshot ("Don't look at me. I just like to shoot things"). A new member joins the team, a plan is made and Gotham City is on its way to see some trouble. Fantastic entertainment.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Great, great start.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Batman and Robin" #25 had some cute interplay between the new Dynamic Duo and Jason Todd plus solid artistic stylings by Greg Tocchini, but with an ending that was far from heroic and the title characters not being very impressive, it's not exactly a slam dunk as far as the whole package goes.
There is a moment in "Astonishing Thor" #5 which is, in fact, astonishing -- too big to spoil via reviewing, but portrayed well in art from Robert Rodi, but the talky and tedious ending, based in motives far from divine, were more adequate than "astonishing."
"Moon Knight" #3 was moving along well, introducing a Magical Negro (tm) as a witty sidekick and introducing some pretty good dialogue when a wholly laughable Marvel leftovers showed up at the end, trying to look like they mattered. Uneven plotting and a laugh-worthy ending sabotaged this.
With enough sexual tension to fell a wildebeest, "Wolverine and Black Cat: Claws 2" #1 was a fun mix of flirting and fighting that dropped the ball when it introduced a man in a halter top, plus the confectionary tone read a little too close to slash fiction to say, "this issue must be owned!"
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Hulk" #36, "Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom" #7 ("Watchmen" called, they want Doc Manhattan's shtick back), "Thunderbolts" #160, "Adventure Comics" #528, "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force" #1, "Uncanny X-Men" #540, "Flashpoint" #3, "Fear Itself: Wolverine" #1, "X-Men" #14, "Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint" #2, "Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt" #3, "Vengeance" #1, "Superboy" #9, "Heroes for Hire" #9 and "Cap and Thor: Avengers" #1 (very movie minded).
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
It's hard to be surprised at the actions of a guy named "Sinestro" in "Flashpoint: Abin Sur the Green Lantern" #2 as that name probably means "Space Hitler" in his native tongue. This issue's effect on the crossover had about half an inch worth of merit while the rest of the issue just kind of wandered all over the place.
"Fear Itself" #4 borrows a lot from "Blackest Night" (negative emotions? More please!), doesn't understand basic slang ("samo-samo" from Luke Cage in place of "same ol' same ol'"), Tony Stark's "sacrifice" to Odin borders on laughability and more smashing and fighting led next to nowhere. You can almost feel this trying to be good but no being able to figure it out.
"Flashpoint: Secret Seven" #2 brought back an 80s character for a less-than-ambitious reason (and without any of the richness of the property), bops around from place to place in a manner that seemed even more haphazard than "World of Flashpoint" doing the same. The plotting seemed far too scattershot to have been called anything but bad.
You wanna know something about Germany in the 20s? It was dreadfully gray and dull, as you'd see in "Red Skull" #1. Revealing the earliest notes on how Johann Schmidt got twisted, Anakin style, from a harmless little boy to a murdering madman, the drabness of the tedious plot didn't do much more than fill space.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Four okay books, four stinkers and a mountain of "meh" in between. That's a wash, like it never even happened.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps beat an essentially null experience so the week wins.
This week on Komplicated, aside from the regular free music downloads and notes about where to find Black people in comics and media there was a breakdown of DC's "relaunch" grades with Black people, Phylicia Rashad and Rosie Perez as Greek divinities in "Gods Behaving Badly" and a big story on a post-relaunch shake up for Green Lanterns in the DCnU. This is how Komplicated gets down every week.
Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. "less than 64 pages") by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee the work will get reviewed, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially. Oh, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn't been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!
Oh, blogs: thanks to Suuru Designs you'll find blogs at the Soapbox. That's where you'll see Commentary Track blogs on these reviews, normally within a day or two of their publication. Also, Wednesdays have two sneak peeks at what's going to be in the column (one Wednesday afternoon, the second hopefully by midnight) from the Operative Network Mobile Edition. Enjoy!